By Joe Guzzardi
January 3, 2017
Under normal circumstances, an elected official who publicly proposes committing a new crime to cover up an existing crime might be impeached.
But when the crimes involve illegal immigration, an arena where lawlessness reigns supreme, and the would-be perpetrator is New York Mayor Bill de Blasio who, along with other city and county leaders, is a passionate advocate for illegal aliens, we’ve entered swampland.
On December 29, de Blasio and 30 other high-ranking city officials sent President Obama a letter that urged an executive action to protect illegal immigrants from any steps that President-elect Donald Trump may take against them, including removal. The letter asks for specific protections for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACAs) that total about 740,000 nationwide. An umbrella group called Cities for Action is also a signatory. The group includes Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney and Syracuse Mayor Stephanie Miner, as well as others who represent the nation’s largest cities.
The letter also pleads with the current administration to expand and extend the controversial Temporary Protected Status program that gives aliens permission to remain in the U.S. if the Attorney General declares their homeland unsafe. Under TPS, which the State Department can and has renewed multiple times, foreign nationals from El Salvador, Honduras and Nicaragua, among other countries, have been protected for more than two decades even though their native countries are no longer in turmoil.
But de Blasio has taken New York’s case one step further than his peers. The mayor suggested destroying the database that contains New York’s illegal immigrants’ personal information, and was used on applications to receive a New York ID card. More than 850,000 IDNYC cards were issued to aliens during 2015. Republican lawmakers have sued to block de Blasio.
De Blasio has two major problems that will catch the Trump administration’s attention. First, IDNYC cards violate Title 8 of the United States Code, Section 1324 that bans bringing in, shielding, harboring or encouraging aliens. According to the law, elected officials, officers and administrative employees involved in the IDNYC program are individually criminally liable for each and every ID card issued to an illegal alien.
Second, New York cannot arbitrarily erase illegal immigrants’ records without running afoul of other federal laws that govern destruction of evidence, obstruction of criminal investigators, obstruction of federal proceedings and tampering. Destruction of records must be implemented uniformly throughout agencies and departments, and cannot be limited exclusively to data that pertains to any one group, in this case illegal immigrants. Furthermore, records cannot be destroyed in an effort to impede a possible federal investigation.
The problem that de Blasio and the mayors face is that, going back 50 years, previous presidents and their attorneys general haven’t demonstrated serious interest in enforcing these laws even though voters have entrusted them with the power to do so. But although Trump hasn’t taken office, the prospect of meaningful enforcement for the first time in five decades has struck fear into immigration advocates like de Blasio, and has them grasping for straws.
Joe Guzzardi is a Californians for Population Stabilization Senior Writing Fellow. Contact him at [email protected] and on Twitter @joeguzzardi19.